SIMON Mignolet is not one who seeks personal plaudits.
But the Sunderland keeper admits he took particular pleasure in producing a stunning full-length save to deny Shaun Maloney in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Wigan Athletic.
Mignolet was well aware of the importance of his 49th-minute stop, at a time when Wigan were looking for an immediate route back into the game after a woeful first-half display saw the hosts trailing by two goals.
Scotland winger Maloney, who played under Martin O’Neill at both Celtic and Aston Villa, looked set to halve the deficit when he ghosted inside from the right and hit a powerful shot back across Mignolet, only for the Belgian to palm the ball away with his outstretched left arm.
Mignolet told SportMail: “I’m very pleased with the save personally because I know it was a really important time in the game.
“We’d played 49 minutes then, and if they had scored, we’d have had to defend 40 minutes more and hang on to the result.
“As it was, we only had to defend the last 10 minutes to make sure we got the three points.
“I was pleased to help the team out.”
Mignolet had been beaten inside the opening four minutes when David Vaughan re-directed James McArthur’s scuffed shot into his own net.
But Mignolet praised the response from the Black Cats, who plundered three first-half goals before holding on during a frantic finale when substitute Angelo Hernandez eventually did add a second for the Latics with 10 minutes to go.
“We said beforehand that Wigan are a very good team if they get into the lead,” added Mignolet
“When you concede so early, it makes things very difficult.
“But the manner in which we responded was brilliant.
“We got back into the game very quickly which was needed and then we had Fletch (Steven Fletcher) who scores when he wants!
“It was great to get into half-time with a 3-1 lead.
“We knew it was going to be difficult in the second half.
“They’d brought on some fresh players, and really wanted to win, and they’re a good team with the way they play.
“But we defended well and hung on to the result which was needed.”